Georgia commit Gabriel Harris ineligible for senior season, pending appeal

Valdosta defensive end Gabriel Harris, who committed to Georgia in April, is ineligible for his senior high school football season, pending an appeal.

The Georgia High School Association denied the senior’s hardship request Tuesday, and Valdosta submitted an appeal Wednesday morning.

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Harris transferred to Valdosta from Thomas County Central in the offseason. At issue is whether Harris made what the GHSA defines as a bona fide move into his new school district. For immediate eligibility, a transfer athlete must change residences and live inside his new school zone or win a hardship case to waive the rule.

Valdosta has two potential appeal options remaining, the first with a second four-member GHSA appeals board comprising members of the GHSA’s executive committee. Failing that, Valdosta can appeal to the GHSA’s full board of trustees or executive committee.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard Aug. 16, three days before Valdosta is scheduled to open its season at home against North Miami Senior High.

If Harris loses his appeal, he also would be ineligible at any GHSA school, including his former one, Thomas County Central, unless he pleads another hardship and wins. The GHSA instituted that rule coincidentally because of a 2020 Valdosta player, Jake Garcia, who was declared ineligible after playing one game for Valdosta but transferred to Grayson, where the quarterback led his new team to a state title.

Harris is the consensus No. 10 prospect in the state in the 247Sports Composite and No. 13 edge rusher nationally. He is Georgia’s ninth-rated committed recruit in its 2023 class.

Harris made first-team Class 4A all-state as a Thomas County Central junior. He had 12.5 tackles for losses and seven sacks.

Valdosta coach Shelton Felton didn’t respond immediately to a call for comment. The GHSA does not comment on pending cases.